- Investors With 58% of Greek Bonds Agree to Swap. Investors with at least 58 percent of the Greek bonds eligible for the nation’s debt swap have so far indicated they’ll participate, putting the country on the verge of the biggest sovereign restructuring in history. Greece’s largest banks, most of the country’s pension funds, and more than 30 European banks and insurers including BNP Paribas (BNP) SA, Commerzbank AG (CBK) and Assicurazioni Generali SpA (G) have agreed to the offer. That brings the total so far to at least 120 billion euros ($157 billion), based on data compiled by Bloomberg from company reports and government statements.
- German Factory Orders Unexpectedly Fall on Slump in Export Demand: Economy. German factory orders unexpectedly declined in January as foreign demand for investment goods such as machinery slumped. Orders (GRIORTMM), adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, fell 2.7 percent from December, when they gained 1.6 percent, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. Economists forecast a 0.6 percent increase, according to the median of 37 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. From a year ago, orders dropped 4.9 percent when adjusted for work days.
- Spain Trails Italy as Growth Concern Halts Rally: Euro Credit. Spanish bonds are underperforming those of Italy as concern the Iberian nation’s economy will struggle to grow has left it trailing in a rally sparked by two rounds of extraordinary European Central Bank lending. Spain’s benchmark borrowing costs rose above Italy’s for the first time in almost eight months last week after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his nation’s 2012 deficit would be higher than agreed at budget talks with the European Union. Italy’s 2011 deficit narrowed more than economists forecast even as the economy slipped into recession. “The spotlight is back on Spain’s fiscal performance,” said Peter Chatwell, a fixed-income strategist at Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank in London.
- China's Stocks Fall for Third Day on Concern Over Global Economic Slowdown. China’s stocks fell for a third day, the longest losing streak in almost two months, on concern a global slowdown will hurt earnings. Jiangxi Copper Co. paced losses by raw materials producers after commodity prices slid the most this year. China Life Insurance Co. (601628) slipped to a two-month low after the nation’s biggest insurer said profit may have fallen as much as 50 percent in 2011. China Eastern Airlines Corp., the nation’s second-largest carrier, sank 0.7 percent after Chairman Liu Shaoyong said he expects a “big” drop in travel-demand growth. “Corporate earnings aren’t looking very promising and expectations about first-quarter profits may be pessimistic amid the slowdown,” said Wei Wei, an analyst at West China Securities Co. in Shanghai. The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) sank 15.65 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,394.79 at the close. The three-day, 2.7 percent drop is the longest string of declines since a four-day period ended Jan. 16.
- ADP Estimates U.S. Companies Added 216,000 Jobs in February. Companies in the U.S. added more workers in February than a month earlier, another sign of labor market strength, data from a private report based on payrolls showed today. Employment increased by 216,000 for the month after a revised 173,000 gain in January, according to figures from ADP Employer Services. The median estimate in the Bloomberg News survey called for a 215,000 increase this month.
- Productivity in U.S. Cools as Labor Costs Jump. The productivity of U.S. workers rose at a slower pace in the fourth quarter and labor costs jumped, indicating businesses are reaching the limit of wringing efficiency from their workforce. The measure of employee output per hour climbed at a 0.9 percent annual rate, after a 1.8 percent gain in the prior three months, revised figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. Expenses per worker climbed at a 2.8 percent rate, more than twice as much as previously estimated.
- Oil Rises From Two-Week Low as Greek Debt Swap Bolsters European Optimism. Oil rose from a two-week low as more investors signed on to a Greek debt swap, reducing concern that the country will default and bolstering optimism that the European economy will rebound. Futures climbed as much as 1.5 percent after investors with holdings amounting to 58 percent of the Greek bonds eligible for the nation’s debt swap agreed to participate. An Energy Department report showed that U.S. crude supplies increased last week while stockpiles of gasoline, diesel and heating oil fell. Crude oil for April delivery rose $1.39, or 1.3 percent, to $105.09 a barrel at 1:01 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are up 7.3 percent this year. Brent oil for April settlement increased $1.71, or 1.4 percent, to $123.69 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
- Goldman(GS), FedEx(FDX) to Slide Amid Oil Shock: UBS. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), FedEx Corp. (FDX) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) are among 20 stocks that may be most adversely affected in the event of an oil shock, according to Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. market strategist at UBS AG. Auto, transportation, materials, banking and diversified financial companies are likely to be the industry groups hurt most by a supply disruption, Golub said in a note today. He cited a March 4 report from UBS oil analyst Julius Walker that outlined price shock scenarios related to Iran and said Brent crude might rise to between $130 and $270 a barrel, though he expects any jumps to be short-lived.
- Fed Weighs 'Sterilized' Bond Buying if It Acts. Federal Reserve officials are considering a new type of bond-buying program designed to subdue worries about future inflation if they decide to take new steps to boost the economy in the months ahead. Under the new approach, the Fed would print new money to buy long-term mortgage or Treasury bonds but effectively tie up that money by borrowing it back for short periods at low rates. The aim of such an approach would be to relieve anxieties that money printing could fuel inflation later, a fear widely expressed by critics of the Fed's previous efforts to aid the recovery.
- Apple(AAPL) Unveils New iPad With 4G LTE. Apple Inc. took the wraps off a new iPad tablet with a sharper display and the ability to connect to the Internet on 4G broadband networks, as the electronics giant strives to stay ahead of rivals in a market it has helped create. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook took the stage Wednesday in San Francisco to demonstrate the new product at an invitation-only event. "In many ways the iPad is reinventing portable computing, and it's outstripping the wildest of predictions," Mr. Cook told the audience.
- Apple(AAPL) Unveils New Version of Its Best-Selling iPad. Apple unveiled its next generation iPad with a "retina" high-resolution display, the company's first tablet to operate on the high-speed 4G network, in San Francisco on Wednesday. The 4G network runs at speeds roughly 10 times faster than the current 3G technology and may go a long way toward banishing the sometimes shaky video quality of older devices. The new iPad, which will go on sale March 16 and will start at $499, will have a sharper screen and a faster processor and will show more saturated colors than previous models. Versions capable of accessing cellular networks will cost $629 to $829.
- Does Rising Consumer Debt Show Strength or Stress?
- 'Some Drag' on Economy From Energy: Goldman's(GS) Hatzius. Higher energy costs are starting to have an effect on the U.S. economy, Goldman Sachs Group chief economist Jan Hatzius told CNBC Wednesday.
- Never Before Seen 1991 Video Of A Harvard Protest Shows Barack Obama Defending A Radical Law Professor. (video)
- Ukraine Is Two Weeks Away From A Meltdown As Forex Reserves Disappear.
- The US Dollar Instantly Tanks After That Report On More QE.
- Obama High-Speed Rail Debt Costs Total $709 Million A Year in California. A new California Legislative Analyst Office report estimates that the state will have to pay $709 million annually in interest payments if Gov. Jerry Brown sells the $9.4 billion in bonds California voters previously authorized to build a high-speed rail system.
- Luxury Watchmakers See Clouds on China "Eldorado". Luxury watchmakers are hoping a stronger-than-expected recovery in the United States and global exposure will help them sail through a more challenging market in China, where the days of unstoppable growth are ticking by. "Asia is the market which everybody is more concerned about. People are concerned because they know that if Asia is going down there will be big problems," Thierry Stern, chairman of Geneva-based watchmaker Patek Philippe, told Reuters at the world's biggest watch and jewels fair in Basel on Wednesday.
- Fitch: Robust US Bank C&I Loan Growth Likely Short-Lived.
- And the Losers from Greek CDS Contracts Are... Germany.
- Hoban Warns Brussels Over 'Disproportionate' Regulation. Mark Hoban, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has warned Brussels to avoid imposing “disproportionate” regulation on Europe’s embattled financial and economic system.
Passaer Neue Presse:
- German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler opposes international calls to make Europe's permanent rescue fund bigger, citing an interview.
- Spanish regions will have to raise taxes and introduce co-payment programs for health and education to meet the central government budget deficit target.
- Italy will increase the value-added tax by two percentage points to 23% starting in October, Deputy Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli said in an interview.
- Tour operators including TUI AG and Alltours are seeing a 33% drop in German bookings for summer holidays in Greece compared with last year. Germans are choosing other destinations, because prices in Greece haven't dropped and because of worries about anti-German sentiment, citing comments by Alltours found Willi Verhuven.
- Sao Paulo New Home Sales Fell 15.3% in 2011 to $7.6 billion, the lowest level in five years, citing real-estate association Secovi-SP.